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Archive for the ‘Grandchildren’ Category

Little Britches

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Right after I published the article for last week, we finally had a very nice cool front blow in from the north. A taste of autumn has been enjoyed to its fullest. My boys especially spend most of their free time out of doors in the cool sunshine.

Today they each had a lasso and were roping upside-down feed buckets in the driveway. I watched for a moment as each of them brought the ring of rope down around the bucket time and time again.

As the nights hopefully continue to grow cooler and cooler along with the daylight getting shorter and shorter, my little cowboys will snuggle up before bed to be read to and/or told stories.

They love me to tell them my versions of fairy tales like “Jack and the Beanstalk” or “The Three Little Pigs.” They enjoy to be read fictional books like My Father’s Dragon or Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which are full of imaginative plots and characters.

I grew up on the Little House on the Prairie book series, which still holds such a sweet place in my heart today. It of course is based on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. All of my boys have enjoyed her book, Farmer Boy, which follows the childhood of Laura’s future husband, Almanzo. However, they don’t share in my deep affection for the rest of the series.

233711So if you have aspiring cowboys at home, I have the best book recommendation for you this fall. It too is auto-biographical like Little House on the Prairie, but it is written by Ralph Moody. Little Britches:Father and I were Ranchers is the first and arguably the best in the series about growing up ranching in Colorado. The setting changes in later books as Ralph’s life and circumstances also change.

Your whole family will love to hear the adventures of the Moody family. It is filled with love, life lessons, and laughter. You don’t have to know anything about ranching, being a cowboy, or farming to enjoy the stories.

I hope that you will try this book recommendation whether you are old or young, male or female, but especially if you have little cowboys/cowgirls at home. I know that you will love the book and the series if you give yourself a chance to be transported to Ralph Moody’s world.

End of the Summer Blues

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

It is that time of year when you cannot walk into Wal-Mart or other stores without noticing that it is Back-to-School time. Aisles and shelving units are full with crayons, glue sticks, scissors, and notebook paper. Backpacks and locker organizers fill every nook and cranny.

This year is a little different for our family. It is the first year that one of my children is embarking on a new stage of life. My oldest son is on his way to Sam Houston State University. As exciting as it is to see him on his way to further his education and move boldly into adulthood, a little part of me is sad.

I honestly don’t know where the time went. It seems like just yesterday when he began Kindergarten. They say, “Time flies when you are having fun.” I know not everything was fun as I parented and loved and trained my son. It is hard work, but it sure did fly.

I also know that my parenting job is not over. In some ways it is only getting harder. I am having to step back big and let his wings soar. He will make mistakes and he will suffer the consequences, but he will most importantly learn from them.

Since we have a multi-generational herd, it is interesting to watch as mama cows love and care for their baby calves. They nurse them and clean them. They protect them and cuddle up beside them at night. Then at a certain time, the calves are weaned. Usually we wean them, but a mama cow will eventually wean their own calves. It is not natural for a grown cow to still be nursing. How strange would that be?

This whole parenting journey has been one long weaning process as I keep training and teaching my children. Then simultaneously I keep stepping back and letting them learn by making decisions for themselves. This marks a huge turning point in our lives.

It is the juxtaposition of excitement and sadness, which makes this life event so trying. It marks a new dynamic in our family. So instead of nerdy thrill I get from buying boxes of new crayons and finding bargains on spiral notebooks, I am dealing with a mild case of the end of the summer blues. The good news is that Sam is less than an hour drive away.


Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Cousins are special. You are built-in best friends. You are family with a shared heritage. You have shared holidays and family celebrations. You are usually relatively close in age, which makes you such good playmates by default.

My kids are blessed with many cousins from both sides of the family. Some live close. Some live far away. But, the heart strings are tied regardless of the amount of time spent with each one.

This week we have been blessed by the visit of two cousins from Oklahoma. They come down every summer to spend some time at the ranch. It is also a given that they will spend a lot of time with my boys.

It is an opportunity for them to spend quality time with their Texas family. It is also an opportunity for my boys to show them around the ranch. There are horses to ride, hikes to take, fish to be caught, and stars to be gazed at in the night sky.

We are excited that the cousins have arrived. We are looking forward to showing them around again and instilling in them a love for the ranch, which is part of our family culture.

My cousins are almost all grown up now. I’m the oldest and the youngest one is a sophomore in high school. We don’t get to spend much time together anymore. We live in many different states and places, but the one thing that is still true is that we will be there for each other in a minute.

“Blood is thicker than water” and the times that we spent making memories early in our childhood bonded us forever. I encourage my children to spend time and develop relationships with their cousins. Extended family is a great treasure.

How about you? Do you have fond memories of growing up with your cousins?

Boys to Men

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

I grew up listening to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, among other country legends, but I never did understand their song, “Mama’s Don’t let your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.” Not because of the lyrics, but simply because of the title. I grew up around a bunch of ranchers and they were all good, hard-working, manly men.

As a proud mama of four boys, I want my boys to grow up to be good, hard-working, manly men, too. My husband and I encourage them to play outside, work with their hands, etc. as well as read great books. We place just as much emphasis on real life skills as academics.

So when cows need to be worked and calves need to be tagged for identification purposes, we don’t leave them home playing video games. They come out to the ranch truck with jeans, boots, and lariats. Our two youngest boys are now 7 and 6 years old. They asked my husband if they could ride horses with their older brother, Jake. He gave his permission.

What a beautiful sight! Watching my three youngest boys from 13 to 6 in age, push the entire herd up the alley and into the working pens on top of eager and alert horses. The cattle respect the horses and don’t try to charge past; however, the boys had to work them back and forth in order to keep the mass of cattle tight and traveling together.

I regretted the fact that I did not have a camera or even my phone on me to capture this moment in time. It would have been a cool photograph to share with you, but instead I tried to imprint the image in my mind.

My boys were not only commanding animals that outweigh them by hundreds of pounds or herding cattle exactly where they needed to go, but they were working together. As a team, they accomplished the job set before them.

There were two kinds of teams. The first was a team of brothers. Boys that spend a good portion of the day wrestling, arguing, and being rambunctious were being calm, helpful, and focused on the shared goal. Then there was the rider and horse teams. Isaac was riding Ladd, Andrew was riding Dolly, and Jake was riding his horse, Jack. Together they all worked as one team.

After the work was done hours later, I watched my two youngest trot their horses up a hill in belly-deep grass blowing gently in the breeze. They were taking care to see that their horses had an opportunity to drink from the water trough before trailering back to the home ranch. No one told them to; they knew what needed to be done to take care of their teammate, and they did it.

My husband and I are not perfect parents. We make mistakes all the time. Some of you reading this might think that this day was riddled with parental failures. You might think we are completely out of our minds to let our boys near cattle on horseback. Maybe its the country in us, but we don’t see it that way. It is not only a way of life. It is part of how we raise boys to men.

Summer in Full Swing

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Summer on the ranch doesn’t differ too much from year to year. Really the only thing that changes is the amount of rainfall. Other than that, most things are unchanged. The heat is a dependable presence. Summers in Texas are hot and the temperatures have really begun to soar. These high temps combined with high humidity make for an awesome day. You step out of your nice air-conditioned home into an oven, and your body immediately begins perspiring.

This year in particular we have enjoyed nice rains. Therefore, we have more grass than ever. Not bad when you are in the grass fed business. Recently we had our first hay cut. We asked for round bales only. These are easier to feed a herd of cattle in the winter. We now have all the hay out of the field and stored for colder days.

The higher temperatures of summer mean that warmer water temperatures. We don’t have a swimming pool, but we do have several ponds. My children, especially the boys, love to jump in the water in an attempt to cool off. The cows do too, especially the Devons. Well, they don’t jump in, but they do like to stand mid-belly deep in the cool waters. Summertime means finding ways to cool off for both humans and animals.

Gardening is also in its prime time. Vegetables are ripening at lightning speed. We are getting to enjoy the fruit of our labor. Summertime is usually filled with putting up our produce and giving away our excess.

Summers are also a time filled with camps, fun outings, and trips. We like to spend time with our children enjoying this season together. From backyard barbecues to family floating trips, we seize time to spend with family and friends.

This is what summertime looks like at Cross Creek Cattle Company. We are busy doing both hard work and having family fun. We are truly enjoying the sunshine and cool waters. The smell of fresh cut hay fills the air. As I breathe in deeply, I know summer is in full swing.

2014 County Fair

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Another very busy Grimes County Fair and Rodeo has come and gone. It was filled with a bustling week of activity in the heat of early June. My kids worked hard, and their hardwork paid off. Below are the highlights of the week in photographs. Between competing in creative arts, goat show, swine show, pee-wee show, and mutton bustin’, we were spending 12-14 hour days at the fairgrounds. The latter activity is the only one not shown in pictures below. I will have to do that event separately at another time.

In-County Champion

In-County Champion

Jake is an experienced livestock judge and has competed at various contests. This was the highest he has ever placed. 1st as an individual in the Junior Division, which qualified him as the In-County Champion. We were thrilled. Kyla also competed. It was only her second time to livestock judge at a competition. She had to compete in the Senior Division. Regardless her score was great even though she did not place. We are so proud of both of them.

Kyla showing her market goat project. The judge had just passed her.

Kyla showing her market goat project. The judge had just passed her.

Kyla’s market goat died an accidental death a month after it was officially tagged in with the fair; therefore, she was done. However, my sweet Jake gave her his goat project to raise since he had a swine project, too. Since we tagged everything in as a family, it all worked out. Kyla worked her butt off turning this goat into a meat wagon. The judge liked him, she placed well, and made a good profit at the Premium Sale.

Jake showing his market swine project, Susie.

Jake showing his market swine project, Susie.

Without a goat to raise, Jake turned all of his attention to his market swine project. She was easy to raise and gained weight well. We were very hopeful as we counted the days to the fair. While transporting her in a trailer to weigh her, Susie somehow injured her back left leg. She limped bad, which is one of the things judges look for to rule out your pig. Jake did not place bad considering her injury. The judge told him that she was a great pig, but because she was crippled he could not place her any higher. We completely understood and were thrilled that he qualified for the Freezer Sale where he was able to get top dollar.

Isaac showing off RJ's chest after his show.

Isaac showing off RJ’s chest after his show.

Andrew making his pig strut her stuff.

Andrew making his pig strut her stuff.

Both Isaac and Andrew competed in the Pee-Wee Shows for pigs and goats. They did great and we can really see the benefits of having experienced, older siblings. They are already so much further along in showmanship than any of my older kids were at their ages.

Kyla's Grand Champion Art Work in the Senior Division.  It is a mixed media painting with marker and pencil.

Kyla’s Grand Champion Art Work in the Senior Division. It is a mixed media painting with marker and pencil.

Isaac's Grand Champion Art Pee-Wee Division.

Isaac’s Grand Champion Art Pee-Wee Division.

Both Kyla and Isaac brought home Grand Champion rosettes for their artwork. It was just one of the many surprises of the week.

Needless to say, we had an eventful and successful week at the 2014 Grimes County Fair. Regardless if it was judging, showing, or creating, all the activities require hours of hard work and training. Nothing just happened. The county fair in the heat, humidity, and dust might not sound appealing to many of you, but the life lessons and opportunities make it all worth while. Last week was truly a snapshot of life filled with challenges, surprises, losses, and victories. We survived and are stronger for it.

They are already thinking about and planning for next year. So look out the 2015 Grimes County Fair, we will be back.

Website Updated

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Class of 2014!

Class of 2014!

I cannot believe that my oldest son is walking the stage tomorrow. Eighteen years has passed by so quickly. It is really hard to believe. As my family and I are transitioning into a new phase of life, we have begun to purge my oldest’s room of things that he no longer wants or needs. He certainly does not want to pack up his room and head to college with clothes that don’t fit.

With that perspective, I have used part of this week updating the ranch’s website. Besides updating information and rewriting a few things, I also added another page for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). I think this addition will serve both the customer and myself better.

My hope is to offer answers to common questions in order to make the process easier for potential customers. I receive questions all the time via email and/or the phone, and I noticed a similarity between most inquiries. I thought this new page would make the information readily available and be more efficient.

Of course, the FAQ page does not mean that you can no longer contact me. I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions pertaining to our ranch, grass fed beef, harvesting, etc. to the best of my ability. If you have a question, check the page for an immediate answer. If you still feel better talking to a person, then by all means call me. If you have a question that is not on the FAQ page, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Hopefully my son’s transition from high school to college will be as painless as updating the website. I know this time can be filled with a mixture of conflicting emotions like joy and sadness or fear and excitement. Whatever it is that he is feeling, I hope that he knows how proud we are of him. We wish him the best and brightest future.

A Perplexing Find

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

snake in spider web
My daughter, Kyla, and son, Jake, were straightening up the tack room in the horse barn the other day when they made an interesting discovery high in the corner rafters of the ceiling. It is one of the discoveries that make you look twice. Your eyes see it, but your brain does not compute. Yes, you see correctly. It is a spider web with a snake skin stuck in the middle of it. You look again wondering how in the world that happened.

On a foggy, damp morning a snake crawled stealthily to the horse barn trying to hide himself from the barn cat, Comanche. The cat was a fierce predator always on the lookout for field mice or snakes as it fulfilled his duty of keeping the barn clear of varmints. The snake knew that his only hope for filling his empty tummy was to somehow get into the tack room. It was the only room that Comanche did not have access. There must be mice in there. He thought he could hear their high pitched squeaks in the early morning stillness.

The snake lifted his head trying to find the best entry point. At the very top just where the roof and walls met, there was enough room to crawl through. He enthusiastically tried the sides of the barn, but they were too slick. He could not find anything with which to aid in his vertical crawl. He peered even further up and could only see small slices of the gray sky through the tree branches overhead. An idea dawned in his reptilian brain as he turned around to crawl up the nearest tree trunk.

He landed with a loud thump on the roof as he dropped from an overhanging branch. Carefully, he crawled to the edge. It was a long way down; he would have to be extra careful. He wrapped the end of his body around the head of a roofing screw protruding from the metal sheets. With his front end, he hung over the edge and with great effort slid between the open space below the ceiling. Soon he was resting on the top of the wall.

He no longer heard the sounds of mice. The place was eerily quiet. Tired from his climb, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

As he slept, the spider built her nest exactly where she had had much success in capturing insects. It was a big web in the corner of the tack room. She was so absorbed in her thoughts, she did not even notice the sleeping snake. In fact she had made this web in this exact spot so many times, she built it on automatic pilot. As soon as she was finished, she crawled into the corner of her web. Dozing off she awaited the familiar movement of having caught something in her sticky trap.

Soon her web thrashed like the rolling sea. She sprang into action, biting and spinning a tighter grip on her prey. It was huge. She did not even realize that it was a snake. She only acted instinctively to fight her intruder.
The snake stood no chance against her poisonous venom and tight hold on his body. He grew sleepy as the venom surged through his body. He had no way of escape. Or did he? He would have to wait and fight the grogginess.

The spider triumphant in her hunt knew that she could not possibly eat something so big. So she traveled across the room to invite her extended family and friends to her web for dinner. She wanted to be hospitable and share her bounty, but most of all she wanted to brag about her catch of the day.

While she was gone, the snake escaped by shedding his skin. The spider was left disappointed about missing a huge feast, but she kept her web up proudly showing off her trophy.

Regardless of how it really happened, the real question is this: Where is the snake now? As my dad would say, “Welcome to the ranch!”

A Hog Story

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Pig Wrestling

Before I tell this story, you have to understand one thing. That is that my son, Jake, is not like most twelve year old boys. Well, not the twelve year old in today’s society. He is more like the twelve year olds of the American past.

Jake is only happy in the great outdoors. Hunting, fishing, ranching, are some of his favorite hobbies. Well, they are not even hobbies; they are his life. It is what he does.

Jake is the epitome of a free-range kid. His dad and I value his life-skill learning as much as his academics. And, he has thrived learning survival skills, carpentry, all about guns, car repair, etc. Therefore, Jake is self-confident in these areas. As I continue my story, I think a little too confident.

While at the new ranch with my boys, I decided to winterize the camper stationed out there by undoing the water hose to allow the water to siphon out. A big cold front was on its way and I did not want the water lines to bust. At first the hose would not budge and I left my boys, Jake and Andrew, at the camping site while I drove to the tractor parked in an adjoining pasture to retrieve a tool.

When I returned, I did not see my boys. Unconcerned, I unfastened the hose with the help of the tool. I heard a squeal past the brush unmistakably of a hog. We have a trap over there so I was again unconcerned.

“How many did we catch?” I called out to Jake. I did not hear a reply, but continued to hear the high-pitch squeals. I watched as the last drip of water fell from the hose.

As I straightened up, I saw movement in the brush. There is a dry creek bottom between the camping site and the trap which is full of yaupon, bushes, and trees on its banks. I saw the bright orange of Jake’s shorts and heard the squeals drawing closer.

As Jake reached the top of the bank, it all became clear. Here was my son holding the back two legs of a wild piglet, driving him up the creek in wheelbarrow fashion. Andrew followed behind with his face beaming.

“What in the world?” I asked.

“We caught it bare handed!” both Jake and Andrew exclaimed in unison.

Before I could respond Andrew added, “And it was trying to bite us.”

I shook my heads and said, “You think?!”

I looked at their shirts. Jake was wearing a Batman t-shirt and Andrew was wearing a Superman one. I think the superhero mentality went straight to their heads.

Jake killed the pig and cleaned it by himself. It is the perfect size for the pit. Well, we had to have a conversation about the dangers of their decision. Where was the mama sow is the most pressing question.

I don’t think they will do it again. Since then, Jake has killed more wild hogs, but he did it safely with a gun.

As moms we pray for the Lord to keep our children safe. The majority of mothers in the United States are thinking cars, child predators, bike accidents, etc. Mothers out in the country are adding snake bites and apparently now injuries sustained in wild hog attacks.

Never a dull moment for me. As my dad would say, “Welcome to the ranch!”

Giving Thanks in 2013

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

As Thanksgiving is fast approaching, most Americans begin verbalizing things for which they are thankful. We purposefully count our many blessings. We can be thankful for tangible things like a new member of the family or the intangible like freedom. We can also be thankful in unexpected ways like for an illness that set our feet on a different path. The point is to find an occasion to give thanks in all circumstances.

My husband and I have always tried to teach our children to have thankful hearts. Simply saying, “thank you,” is a great place to start. Wanting to instill a sense of gratefulness in my children I asked each of them this question. “As it pertains to living on this ranch, what are you most thankful for?”

Clayton (age 17) “I love the quiet and solitude.”
Kyla (age 14) “Freedom, liberty, and justice for all.” (She insists she is not being a smart.)
Jake (age 12) “I love getting to watch, pet, and be around baby calves.”
Isaac (age 7) “Riding my bike while Buddy (his puppy dog) follows me all down the road and pasture.” Later he added, “Oh, and the bunny rabbits that I see.”
Andrew (age 5) “Horses- riding, watching them run, petting them, and feeding them.”

Anytime that you ask a child a question, there is a big chance that you will be surprised by their answers. Notice it is the little, everyday things for which they are thankful. My husband and I also shared our answers, but you will probably find them more predictable.

Lane “This is a great place to raise a family.”
Lara “I am most thankful for the opportunity to raise a family here in this environment where they can be free to play and explore as well as learn valuable skills. In many ways it is sharing my childhood with them.”

As usual I am more wordy; however, the sentiment is the same. We love it here. We consider ourselves greatly blessed.

What are the members of your family most thankful for in regards to your home? Regardless of the answers, it is fun to see how your children respond.

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